“A good education is a foundation for a better future.” Our past has taught us that education is very important. It is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world.
We all know the power of education. Unfortunately, we also know that education is not provided equally across the nation.
Education in rural areas in India suffers the worst impact. This is due to several reasons.
Through this article, we endeavour to dissect the problems of education in rural areas and provide possible workable solutions to overcome these problems.
Before we look into the problems, we first need to discuss the role and importance of education in rural areas.
Importance of Education in Rural India
“Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom” – Oprah Winfrey
The importance of education around the world cannot be undermined and educating rural India is as important. Being allowed to learn provides students with the skill and knowledge to face the future.
There came a time when India had to think about rural India and educating the rural population because rural India formed a large chunk of the population in India.
The Government, realising the need to educate the rural population has come up with various schemes and policies to encourage the rural youth to attend school.
The Importance of Education in Rural Areas Are as Follows:
1. Bridges the Gap of Unemployment
Educating the youth bridges the gap between the employed and the unemployed.
2. Decreases Poverty
Education of the rural youth directly leads to employment. Employed youth earn a decent living thus eliminating poverty.
3. Increases Productivity
Education and employment lead to the productivity of youth in the rural areas. Youth will now be occupied in the labour sector and will therefore be productive.
4. Education Eliminates Vices
Good education of the youth in rural, as well as urban areas, decreases the possibility of picking up immoral values and habits. Educations develop skills, knowledge, values and moral habits.
11 Major Problems Faced by Students in Rural Areas
Now that we have studied the importance of education in rural areas, we must now turn to the problems faced in rural areas and how to improve education in rural areas.
1. Lack of Quality Teachers in Rural Areas
One of the major problems of education in rural areas is the lack of teachers. Moreover, even if there are teachers, the lack of quality teachers poses a big problem.
As most schools in the rural areas are run by the Government, teachers are appointed by the Government. These teachers are appointed only when necessary or needed and not permanently.
As a result, when teachers are not permanent, the chances of promotions or upgrades are slim. This is a demotivating factor for many teachers in the rural sector.
Due to the lack of teachers in the rural areas, the Government in some states has exempted teachers from clearing the Teachers Eligibility Test. This has further deteriorated the quality of teachers in the rural sector.
Quoting Dr. A.P.J Abdul kalam “The purpose of education is to make good human beings with skill and expertise. Enlightened human beings can be created by teachers.”
2. Poorly Remunerated
Teachers in the rural sector are paid poorly when compared to teachers in the urban area. These are all demotivating factors when it comes to appointing quality teachers.
3. Non Attendance
Another rural education issue is the lack of attendance of teachers and students. This problem is a vicious circle.
At times teachers do not attend the school because students are not present and at times it is the opposite. Students do not attend school because of the teacher’s absence.
4. Government Duties
Some of the Government appointed teachers in rural areas are given duties other than teaching duties like election duties. This leads to the absenteeism of the teacher in the schools.
5. Lack of Transport
One of the problems faced by students in rural areas is the lack of transport. Students are unable to commute the long distances from their homes to the school premises.
The lack of proper roads and public transport deter students from attending school daily. The long commuting hours by foot prove detrimental to students who want to attend school.
6. Poor Infrastructure
The construction of schools in rural areas are below satisfactory. The condition of many schools is in a pathetic state with broken walls, poor lighting and poor sanitation.
In many rural schools, students sit on the floor or on broken furniture.
7. Government Apathy
Government apathy has led to the non-development of schools in the rural sector.
Since most of the schools in rural areas are run by the Government, apathy on behalf of the Government is a major problem faced by these schools.
In many cases, the Government is not concerned about the development of schools in these rural areas.
8. Poor Learning Results
Due to the poor quality of teachers, students in the rural sector tend to suffer. This is one of the problems of education in rural areas. It leads to the poor quality of learning amongst students.
According to the 13th Annual Status of Education Report 2018, which provides information on schooling and learning for a sample of children across rural India, amongst all the children enrolled in Std VIII in India, about 73% can read only a Std II level textbook.
9. Inaccessibility to Modern Learning Tools
Unlike urban areas, rural areas do not have access to modern tools of learning. For example, the latest tool in education is the introduction of digital platforms.
Unfortunately, the rural areas do not have access to these modern tools of learning. The lack of access to the internet, digital devices and uninterrupted power supply are some of the problems of rural areas.
10. Lack of Finances
The general population in the rural areas are hired labourers on farmland or other manual work. The remuneration in these sectors is relatively low.
As the finances are low, the rural population finds it burdensome to spend on the education of their children. As a result, a large portion of the youth in the rural sector stay away from school.
11. Communication Gap
The rural sector mostly communicates with each other in the local language. The medium of instruction in most schools in the rural areas is the local language.
Whereas in the urban areas and corporate sectors, English is the most spoken language.
This lack of knowledge of the English language prevents a large section of the rural youth from procuring jobs in cities.
Now that we know the problems of the schools in the rural areas, we must now find ways to overcome these educational problems.
We must find solutions to bridge the gap between education in rural areas and education in urban areas.
The main question is how can we improve education in rural areas?
Governments are aware of the grim situation in education in rural areas and have been striving continuously to fill the gaps. The Government has taken certain, measures to overcome the shortcomings of education in rural areas.
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Government Policies and Initiatives
1. Mid-Day Meal
To encourage students to attend school, the Government initiated the mid-day meal. It is a popular scheme by the Government of India launched on August 15, 1995.
According to this scheme students were provided free and nutritious meals in school.
The Government initiated this scheme to encourage or attract children to attend school to receive a free mid-day meal.
The state of Tamil Nadu was the first to implement the scheme. Consequently, through the order of the Supreme Court of India, the scheme was made compulsory in all states.
The achievement of the Government in this regard was impressive. The scheme led to the rise in the number of students attending schools.
2. Right to Education (RTE)
The gap in the education between rural youth and urban youth was quite stark. Realising one of the main reasons the rural youth were not properly educated was because of the lack of funds or finances, the Government initiated the Right to Education Act 2009.
According to this Act of Parliament, children between the age of 6 to 14 have the right to education. The Act also requires all private schools to reserve 25% seats for children from the lower margins of society.
3. Padega India Toh Badega India
This is a Government of India initiative to encourage the education of all children. The slogan is very popular with the Indian youth today.
Many NGOs have taken a keen interest to teach the rural youth. One such popular initiative is the Teach for India campaign. Teach for India is an initiative to eliminate educational inequality in India.
One of the biggest ways of how we can improve education in rural areas is through the donations and initiatives of large-hearted philanthropists in India and around the world.
Some of the initiatives by Philanthropists are:
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
6. Grants and Scholarships
The Government of India and Private institutions and Individuals have initiated several scholarships and grants to students from rural areas.
These scholarships encourage education amongst students from the rural areas and other weaker sections of society.
The recent pandemic has further bridged the gap between the rural and urban education sectors. Unfortunately, the COVID crisis had a deep impact on the education sector in both rural and urban areas.
It is now time to pick up from where we left and educate the rural youth and give them equal opportunity in all sectors.
Remember one child one teacher one pen and one book can change the world.
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